30-Day Challenge – Day 22 – Asking the Wrong Questions

Same Thinking Same ResultsThis 30-Day Challenge has been intellectually stimulating for me.  Enoch Hale challenged us to ask “out-of-the-box” questions about teaching and learning…which is fun in some ways and very challenging in other ways.  It has definitely not led (for me) to “the same old thinking.”

Our hallway conversations have been just as fun…and have focused on the stimulation that questions cause.  And that stimulation is now coming from multiple sources as I focus on questions.  So I perked up last week when I saw that Matt Crosslin had posted an interesting “question” in EduGeek Journal – “Still Asking the Wrong Questions About Technology.”  Matt was riffing off a Chronicle of Higher Education article, “Taking Notes By Hand Benefits Recall, Researchers Find.”

As Matt noted:

“The basic point is that students that take lecture notes by hand do better on tests than students that took notes on a laptop…I don’t doubt the findings of this report. Taking notes by hand usually does require you to think more. The bigger question that the researchers are not looking at is “what is the best way to use notes”?”

Matt points out that this “…goes back to the bigger problem in education, where we drag technology and teaching down by constraining it to one paradigm of learning…”  Great point.  Research such as this attempts to paint findings in behaviorist terms (stimulus – response) when our educational environment is evolving into a distributed rhizomatic network of learners.

Day 22 – As a community…how do we stop asking the wrong questions?

Last night in our GRAD-602 class, we explored the evolution of web supported course sites, journeying from the early days of Blackboard LMS through more open WordPress platforms, reviewing “learning communities” in spaces such as Ravelry or music fansites, and then exploring ds106, a vibrant learning community that started as a “course” at University of Mary Washington, but evolved into SO much more.  Now ds106 is a co-constructed community where you can “Start any time, it never ends. Design it your way.”

One of our future faculty said “Wait a minute…don’t you HAVE to use Blackboard?”  Fair question…but the wrong question.

Just as asking if you take better notes by hand is the wrong question.  The right question on note-taking, as Matt noted, might be: What is the intended outcome…and will the notes you have taken help you achieve it?  In a future course our GRAD-602 students will be teaching, the question might become “What are the intended outcomes, and will your web course site support the achievement of these outcomes?”.  And importantly -as ds106 models – will your students be able to come back in after the course is over and continue adding to the learning?  In our podcast this morning, Jeff made this insightful comparison between most LMS course websites and the sites like our GRAD-602 or ds106…they invite you to come back.  Great point, Jeff!

Here is our podcast this morning, with Jeff Nugent, Joyce Kincannon, Laura Gogia and I.  Give a listen!


{Graphic: F. Mandon}

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One comment to 30-Day Challenge – Day 22 – Asking the Wrong Questions

  1. Enoch Hale says:

    What really got my attention last night was the question you posed “If you don’t change the given structure, then do you allow Blackboard to define your course?” So many implications to texts books we passively use, to syllabi we “borrow” from other instructors, to classroom space. Where is autonomy in instructional design given all the givens?

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